Are High-Asset Divorce Cases Treated Differently in Temecula Divorce Court?
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The California legislature enacted laws under the Family Code that dictate how assets are to be divided when spouses divorce. This means that the same law applies to everyone, regardless of how much money they have or what their assets consist of because the law applies to every resident. Community property is divided equally and separate property is assigned to the spouse that owns such property. When celebrities and the ultra-rich get divorced, the division of assets and obligations is treated the same as everyone else that goes through a divorce in California.
Of course, although the law treats everyone the same and mandates that the Court divide assets and order spousal support the same for every case, there are certainly reasons that high-asset divorce and legal separation cases are far more difficult than the “normal” divorce. Some of these reasons can be explained in a short sentence and includes:
- High-asset divorce cases may involve multiple businesses that have to be valued and divided;
- There may be many real properties that have to be divided;
- There may be “unique” assets owned by the parties, such as sports franchises and wineries that are not easy to value and divide;
- The personalities of well-off persons may differ from those with limited funds, thereby sometimes making the high-asset divorce case more contentious;
- Assets are often diversified, which makes the discovery of those assets more difficult and time consuming;
- High net worth individuals often have many professionals assisting them, including accountants, financial advisors, lawyers and insurance experts. All these professionals will likely be involved in the planning of a divorce and in the divorce case itself;
- The court may appoint various neutral experts to assist the court, including child custody evaluators, forensic accountant specialists, special masters, business evaluators and so forth;
- In cases where parties own a lot of assets, the division of personal property, jewelry, artwork, cash and other items stored in safes or safe deposit boxes, furniture and furnishings, electronics and other items can be hotly contested because the items are worth a significant amount of money; and
- In high-asset cases, the income available for child support and spousal support can be an important and difficult issue to litigate, due to the various forms of compensation and various entities owned and/or operated by the wealthy.
In all cases, including cases involving lots of assets and property, discovery is a useful tool to determine the nature and extent of marital property that the family court will divide. The more assets and the more complex a case involves, the more discovery will ensue. Discovery can be expensive but very useful. In high-asset cases, depositions are the “norm” even though they are expensive to conduct and most typical divorce cases will not include any depositions. Discovery plans are often extremely complex in cases involving a myriad of assets, and careful planning should be done.
Declarations of Disclosure often take longer to prepare because they are more complex when a large number of marital and separate assets are involved.
To schedule a free consultation with Justine Marren, click here. Our firm has extensive experience in handling high-asset divorce cases in California.